I love it when big time college sports programs allow non-recruited student-athletes to try out for their athletic teams, and Michigan Lacrosse is one of many giving the entire male student body just that chance. On September 6th, Michigan Lacrosse is hosting an open try out. How excellent a move is that?
Think I’m crazy, or that this isn’t a big deal? Allow me to convince you otherwise…
Sure, Michigan might not be Virginia or Hopkins when it comes to being a big time college lacrosse program (at least not yet), but let’s be honest here… Michigan is still Michigan, and that already means a lot for a ton of people out there.
I had a friend in High School who couldn’t wait to go to Michigan on the off chance that he might be able to be their fourth string goalie in soccer after walking on. We were from Massachusetts. Will kids go to Michigan just so they can try to walk on to the lacrosse team? Definitely. That alone makes it a great move for the school.
So let’s get to the program itself. John Paul and the Wolverines don’t have to do this, they really don’t. They don’t have to hold open tryouts, and many schools (some of them also State Universities), do nothing of the sort! For example, there is one school in New York that finished 4-9 last year, which will NOT be hosting open tryouts this year… even though they are in lax crazy NY. Now that is crazy!
Yes, I know. Michigan finished at 1-13 last year, but that only means that maybe they can actually pick up a kid here or there who can help them in the near future. But with the recruits headed to Michigan like a Trevor Yealy crease shot to a corner, I’m not so sure Michigan really needs to be hosting open tryouts… so why is this such a great move for the program if they’re not necessarily going to pick up their stud player?
Simply put, Michigan Lacrosse has a long tradition of student involvement. This tradition was born by the passion and dedication of students and alumni, and it was built using a “pull in one direction” mentality. Great things were accomplished at Michigan by trying to grow the pie, and not divide it. By wearing their MCLA jerseys in their first season, Michigan made it symbolically clear that this tradition would continue on, and that this team would remain of and for the Michigan people.
As the Men’s Lacrosse team looks to break into an already strong college sports scene, the attitude of community and openness will only help them. They may never find a diamond in the rough, but is there any downside to doing something like this? Yes, but it’s very small, and in this case, possibly insignificant.
The worst case scenario for something like this is a loss of time for coaches who might not find a valuable walk on. This means that guys like John Paul might “waste” 12 total hours a year taking a look at potential players from within. First off, that’s not a ton of time “wasted”, and second, it seems like something John Paul might actually enjoy.
You see, Paul has been given a chance by the school to be a Head Coach at Michigan, after being “just” a club coach for years. Very few people are given that shot, and JP worked his butt off for it. So if JP saw some kid busting his butt to make the team, and doing all the right things, don’t you think Coach Paul would like to give him a shot? It rings with tradition, and taking the high road, and to me, that reeks of Michigan Lacrosse.
Of course on the other hand, the best case scenario is that some kid comes out of nowhere, makes the team, becomes a starter or contributor (even though he’s undersized and was unrecruited) and instantly becomes a Michigan sports legend. On the off chance that this happens once every hundred years it’s worth it! Jordan Kovacs ring a bell for anyone?
The most likely scenario of course, is that by keeping the program open and accessible, Michigan Lacrosse will build up a base of fans and dedicated supporters, probably for life. Rubbing elbows with lacrosse players on scholarship, or getting a tryout pinnie could be HUGE moments for many students at Michigan, and for the future of the program, I’m really excited to see them continue with this mindset.
If you’re a student at Michigan, or thinking of going there in the future… now is your chance! So hit the wall, get better and dream of Wolverines!
Think Michigan is Growing The Game in the right way? Think they don’t need to walk ons? What other schools could really benefit from hosting walk on tryouts? And who else gives non-recruited students this chance?